Holiday shopping is starting earlier than ever this year due to shipping delays and a lack of inventory. While consumers are racing to purchase holiday gifts, it is important to watch out for signs of online shopping scams. It can be predicted that scams will be more prominent than ever with consumers desperate to receive their items in time for the holidays. Here are 6 tips to ensure a safe and secure online shopping experience.
- Watch out for deep discounts.
Scammers are always on top of the latest trends and in-demand items. One way they lure shoppers into purchasing from them is by offering deep discounts on coveted items. If an item is priced significantly lower than on other reputable websites, chances are, the discounted item is a scam. Buyers will purchase the item and either receive something damaged, receive something completely different than advertised, or receive nothing at all.
2. Only use a credit card.
These days, many credit card companies provide built-in fraud protections as a safeguard for their customers. If a shopper falls for a scam, their credit card company will either be able to block the purchase or easily recover any money lost due to the fraud. Credit cards are also not directly linked to the user’s bank account, so it is more difficult for a scammer to access the full account information of the buyer. To ensure shoppers are alerted of any suspected scams on a credit card, it can be a good idea to turn on email or text notifications through the online settings.
3. Research any unknown websites.
Oftentimes, a savvy consumer will be able to tell the legitimacy of a company just by looking at their website. Are there misspellings anywhere on the site, including the URL? Does it have a company history page? Are the product photos generic stock photos that don’t show much detail? All of these questions can help shoppers decide whether to trust a seller or not. Also, many reputable sellers will include privacy & security policies on their websites. These policies outline what a consumer’s information is used for. Shoppers should read these policies thoroughly to ensure their information is safe. If a website does not have its policies listed, it is probably best to find another website.
4. Check reviews.
Any trustworthy company will have multiple reviews from real customers. The reviews can often be found on the website itself, or on other websites such as Google or Yelp. When reading reviews, pay attention to the ratio of five-star to one-star reviews. If there seems to be more negative than positive feedback on the product or seller, that should tell the shopper to search elsewhere. If a product or seller has zero reviews, it is also best to search elsewhere. Good reviews help assure the shopper that others have had positive experiences that can be trusted.
5. Always track the package delivery.
One step to ensure a purchase is indeed arriving safely is to ask for tracking information. If a seller is not willing to provide tracking information, there is no proof that a package was ever shipped. Scammers will often take the buyer’s money and never send anything out to them. A tracking number will provide the shopper assurance that they will be receiving a package by a specific date
6. Check out as a guest.
When making a purchase online, websites will often have you sign in, make an account, or check out as a guest. Creating an account and signing in will provide the website with far more information as opposed to checking out as a guest. Even the most trusted websites with these policies can be hacked, putting thousands of people’s personal information at risk of being accessed. Providing the least amount of information as possible keeps the consumer safe.
This holiday season, make sure to be vigilant while shopping online. Do your research. Trust your gut. Being aware can help you avoid being scammed. If you believe you are a victim of an online scam and want to investigate further, contact us for a free consultation today!